A Man



An interview with T. Daniel Hofstedt

What does a talented animator do to express himself in his spare time? Why, he's more creative of course!

T. Daniel Hofstedt is a supervising animator at Walt Disney Feature Animation in California who also writes his own music and lyrics.


By T. Daniel Hofstedt

I had a dream about a year ago ...
I was driving down this mountain road

Late at night, I was almost home ...
I suddenly felt I was not alone

I found myself on the passenger side ...
Some Wild Man began to drive

He crashed through the rail, I was terrified ...
As we careened down the mountainside

Let me go and set me free
There's somewhere else I need to be...

Down on the Mountain Road

I was afraid of what he'd do to me ...
As he zig-zagged between the trees

I looked at him and was shocked to see ...
My own two eyes staring back at me

Let me go and set me free
There's somewhere else I need to be

We reached the bottom of the mountain
near the city down below....

He pulled over and gave me the keys and said, "Man,
that was quite a show"

He smiled at me and helped me face the tears
"Sometimes," he said, "you must embrace your fears"

I told him everything is coming clear
I haven't had this much fun in years....

I woke up with my wife in bed ....
Drenched in sweat but I wasn't dead

"Go back to sleep" she softly said ....
But that mountain song was ringing in my head

Let me go and set me free
There's somewhere else I need to be

Come with me and you will see
The Mountain Road that set me free....

Down on the Mountain Road

© 1995 T.D. Hofstedt.

Hofstedt said the poem was inspired by a dream he had that started as a fear then turned into a sense of safety.

"Initially I felt like the Wild Man was someone to fear," he reported, "then I found out in the end the fear was an allegory for myself. The Wild Man is at the core of my being. In the end my real self is really a gift."

Hofstedt said his music comes from a desire to pursue the truth about himself.

"I'm digging - scratching around trying to find what the feeling is," he added. "A lot of my songs have questions and I'm trying to find out where it all ends."

Hofstedt joined Disney in 1991, after graduating with a B.A. in character animation from the California Institute of the Arts. He worked briefly at Hanna Barbera as a character animator on "The Smurfs" TV show, and later joined Sullivan/Bluth Studios, where he was a directing animator on a variety of features, including "An American Tail," "The Land Before time" and "All Dogs Go to Heaven." His first Disney feature was "Aladdin."

The animator recently designed the character "Mr. Arrow" for Disney's new release "Treasure Planet." The animated character is "steady as a rock, strong and steadfast ... and a pillar of strength."

Many men are taught only to be task oriented and grow up with this image of "keeping a tight ship," he said.

Too much athletic terminology gets "burned into us" at a young age he said. "We're taught to 'suck it up' and if it hurts - hide it. But, we also need that energy to keep going if we're ever going to get anything done."

With 250 original songs in his repertoire, Hofstedt gets plenty done.

Writing song lyrics is partly a validation, he confesses. But more than that, it is a way he makes a connection with other people.

"It's a cool feeling when someone else gets the picture I'm describing with my lyrics."


All I hear is the crackle and clatter and noise.
The murmur of traffic and the buzzing of high-tech toys

And powers that be just keep getting all over my case
I gotta find me the nearest far-away place
I wanna start my own private collection of quiet
Put my hammer anvil and stirrups on an audio diet
And who knows? Maybe I'll finally find the meaning of Grace

Can you direct me to the nearest far away place?
Shall I go to the desert in the shade of the Joshua trees?
Tune into the sound as tumbleweeds dance in the breeze
Or how 'bout the North Pole to listen to an iceberg freeze?

Or just hole up in my room and get down on my knees
When I seek the silence I hear the voice of my soul
Gotta let it echo and guide me to my goal
Get down to the core and let it roll
Did we come from Eden or a Big Bang out of thin air?
Descended from quiet or chaos?....I wasn't there
All I know is I was never intended to live at this pace

I need to find me the nearest far-away place
Shall I go to the desert in the shade of the Joshua trees?

Tune into the sound as tumbleweeds dance in the breeze
Or how 'bout the North Pole to listen to an iceberg freeze?

Or just hole up in my room and get down on my knees

© 1997 T.D. Hofstedt

The artist/writer said he believes we can easily be distracted with too many modern technological toys.

"There's something simpler we're wired to receive in ourselves," he commented, "like quality moments with my wife, kids and family.

Wife, Debbie and children Angie, Bonnie and Daniel, Jr. are an inspiration to him.

So are his heroes in baseball (Reggie Smith, Duke Snider, Dusty Baker and the late Roy Campanella) whom he met in 1990 when he went to "Dodger Town."

"I had baseball cards of these guys as a kid and then I'm on the field together with them, eating dinner together, talking stories - they did the jobs I fantasized as a kid. "

Hofstedt's musical influences include Jackson Browne, Dan Fogelberg and the Beatles.

The lack of mentoring opportunities between men and boys is a concern for Hofstedt.

"I think you have to really search for it these days. It's not common place - the connection between the generations."

The modern media saturates us with the image of dad as some kind of "dufus" and creates part of the problem, he noted.

Hofstedt joked in an accent that might very well fit into one of the animated movies he draws:

"I'm just a dad, you know, I don't know anything. All I do is sit around and watch sports all day."

Unfortunately, that reference is the cultural stereotype, he said.

"We think middle-aged men are clueless, and we merely tolerate them."

© 2005 Reid Baer

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The fame you earn has a different taste from the fame that is forced upon you. - Gloria Vanderbilt

Reid Baer, an award-winning playwright for “A Lyon’s Tale” is also a newspaper journalist, a poet with more than 100 poems in magazines world wide, and a novelist with his first book released this month entitled Kill The Story. Baer has been a member of The ManKind Project since 1995 and currently edits The New Warrior Journal for The ManKind Project www.mkp.org . He resides in Reidsville, N.C. with his wife Patricia. He can be reached at E-Mail.

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